I finished reading Unbroken to our boys last night. Both of them loved the story, even though at times it was hard for them to follow with the Japanese names, some of the technical terms, and the multiple characters involved in the story. But we got through it, all 416 pages of it.
The hardest part of reading it to them, was the detailed abuse that Louis Zamperini endured while a POW. The book was far more graphic than the movie, and the boys got a real taste for the ugliness of war. (I told Heidi at one point that I don’t think I could ever read the book again as it was so gut wrenching.)
But it was necessary to understand the abuse that he went through. The debasement, beatings, starving, and slave labor he was forced to endure showed how much a man can endure. It also helped us see how it drove his hatred for his captors after the war. For the first few years after the war, Louis existed on this hatred and the thought of murdering one of his captors, that, and lots of alcohol. His hatred and the memories were destroying him.
Then that Billy Graham fellow showed up in Los Angeles. Louis’ wife insisted that he attend the services. They went once, then twice. And the LORD showed Him mercy. Louis became a Christian. From that moment forward, the nightmares, the hatred, the torments of the past, no longer had a grip on Louis. The Spirit freed him from the trauma. He gave his life to Christ and began serving Him.
What is profound is that when you read the story, which focuses mostly about Louis’ life before and during the war, his true identity, was not as veteran, victim, or even Olympian, but as a Christian. Yes, those other identities prevailed for a time, but the lasting identity for Louis was who he was in Christ.
This is what I want my sons to see at the beginning of their lives. We may have a plethora of identities, but the only one of real importance is who we are “in Christ.” The more we all grow in that understanding, the more we will see how fruitless the endeavors and achievements of the world truly are. As Christians, one identity will prevail. All others will fade away.